Clemson geology museum temporarily closed due to winter weather damage
CLEMSON — Damage caused by fierce winter weather hammering the Southeast has forced the temporary closing of Clemson University’s Bob Campbell Geology Museum.
The museum, located on the grounds of the South Carolina Botanical Garden, was flooded when temperatures in the low teens caused an air compressor to malfunction and a pipe to burst behind the ceiling above several exhibits.
“It was like a waterfall,” said Patrick McMillan, garden director. “We ended up with six inches of standing water on the floor and saturated drywall and insulation everywhere. Several of the exhibits were severely damaged.”
A full-size casting of a Dimetrodon, flying reptiles exhibit and several fossils were crushed when the ceiling fell. Custom designed oak display cabinetry also was damaged.
“There is no telling how long we will be closed,” said museum curator Adam Smith.
Smith urged people to check the Bob Campbell Geology Museum Facebook page for updates.
The museum, which is free and open to the public, is the only museum in the state dedicated to geology and paleontology. It is visited by some 25,000 people per year, and relies largely on donations for its revenue.
“Being closed for any extended period is certainly going to hurt our revenue,” Smith said.
In addition to its role in education and outreach, the museum is also home to an active paleontological research program involving Clemson students and faculty, and international collaborators. The museum also provides specimen identification free of charge.
In 2013, the South Carolina Botanical Garden was severely damaged when locally heavy storms dumped 11 inches of rain in just a few hours and caused massive flooding. The garden made infrastructure changes to control drainage and runoff, and when Hurricane Joaquin poured unprecedented amounts of water on Upstate South Carolina in October 2015, the garden sustained only minimal damage.